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Strong winds blow into Southern California just in time for holiday travel

Drivers of high-profile vehicles and motorcyclists should brace for heavy gusts through mountain passes this afternoon. Temperatures in the region are expected to rise back into the 70s by Christmas.

December 22, 2009|By Victoria Kim

Snowstorms they are not, but high winds and falling snow levels may complicate holiday travel plans this week in Southern California.

A dry cold front is expected to move into the region early today, bringing along a chance of showers and snow in the local mountains, said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service.

Strong northerly winds are expected to begin today, with gusts reaching "damaging levels" of 60 mph in some mountain areas. High-wind watches are expected to go into effect this afternoon.

The strong winds and snow levels as low as 3,000 feet could create dangerous conditions in mountain passes, such as the Grapevine section of Interstate 5, even though little snowfall is expected, Seto said.

High-profile vehicles and motorcycles will be most affected by the wind.

"There will be a definite wind-chill factor," he said. "Anybody planning on traveling should pack extra blankets and emergency equipment, especially at higher elevations."

After several days of warm, 70-degree weather, Los Angeles and the region are expected to experience unusually chilly weather today and Wednesday with highs of 63 and 62 degrees, respectively, compared with normal highs of 68 this time of year.

But beginning Thursday, temperatures are expected to rise again, making for a toasty Christmas Day and weekend, with highs in the 70s.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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